The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SUMMER 2003











In this issue

Front Page


Summer Packet


From the Editor

Canoelit I

Canoelit II

Discovering Eden

Back page




Canoelit I


Jewel of Ontario

The Petawawa River

A film by George Drought, 2003

Wilderness Bound Productions

To order VHS:

George Drought’s development as a filmmaker has continued and he has produced a charming look at the lovely Petawawa River in Ontario’s Algonquin Park.

While I was expecting something more straightforward, Drought has reached into the cinematic bag of tricks and rewarded us with an interesting film about paddling the river and those who have paddled it before.

There are some lovely nature and rapids shot and while the quality still varies widely, it is pleasing. The only time it looks poor are in some of

the interviews where the light is bad. The investment in wireless microphones paid off, as people can talk a distance from the camera while paddling the rapids or trudging the portages.

This film starts off with a bang, especially for those of us who have done the river and always wondered what lay beyond the Do Not Enter signs at the takeout. That’s where the Army base begins, or more importantly, the firing range where they test shells and ammo! George and friends were allowed into the base to run some of the rapids.

Then the story moves back into the river’s headwaters. Petawawa means, ‘the noise from far away” and it rises in the eastern half of Algonquin. There are stories of the early logging and a great section on the Stacks Rapids which empty into Cedar Lake where most people think of the river as starting. The classic ancient store in Brent offers a good interview with a man who has lived in the Park all his life, as have many of his forebears.

This theme continues down the river with interviews and rapids and good fun. Drought won a Waterwalker Film Award for this piece and perhaps we’ll see it on a specialty TV channel before long.

 One minor gripe. The cover of the video box is a very poor quality photo and it’s hard to figure why they would slip up there with a wealth of good photos surely available. But it’s what’s inside that really counts – though you have to make the people want to buy.

The province of Saskatchewan has, in the past year, become one of the best covered areas for wilderness paddling. Last year’s great Canoeing the Churchill filled a big void on the great river and now some Laurel Archer’s Northern Saskatchewan Canoe Trips to add a bunch more.

— Michael Peake


A film by Les Stroud

Wilderness Spirit Productions

VHS 39 minutes $29.95 - 2003

To order or call 705.387.4717

Reality TV being all the rage, it is nice to see the formula done in a very northern Canadian sort of way. No melodrama, no tribes.

Les Stroud, who helped George Drought with his Petawawa film including the lovely music, is the man behind this production and it looks first class all the way. Out of the burgeoning film centre of Burk’s Falls, Ontario, Les is producing a steady stream (sic) of enjoyable outdoor videos.

Les has a very compelling TV appearance – telegenic is the phrase they use. In this 40-minute TV show made in conjunction with the Discovery Channel in Canada, Les is dropped into the northern bush with nothing but what he is wearing and carrying. Oh, yes, that plus 90 lbs. of television cameras.

 It’s important to note that there was no TV camera operator with him — he did it all. This is the real survivor and in this case Les is more. Oh, yes, and the moral of the story is ALWAYS carry a Swiss Army Knife!

For eight days we watch him sweat, shiver, itch and work his butt off filming this adventure in Wabikimi Provincial Park northwest of Thunder Bay. Les’ winning personality shows though as he battled the bugs and heat and harsh realities of making a fire without a match (it took nine hours-plus!).

There’s a cooking section too. Toasted leeches  sure made my wife go Yum . . . or was it Yeccchh.

It’s great fun and very instructive — for Les too as it turns out. He’s been teaching this for 18 years and  there’s still something for the ol’ professor to learn.

                                         — Michael Peake


 Summer 2003         Outfit 113 

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